Understanding Visual Literacy & Creating Narrative Art
What is Visual Literacy?
The ability to read, comprehend, and write visual language - in order to communicate successfully in our increasingly image-saturated culture. Visual literacy is based on the idea that pictures can be ‘read’ and that meaning can be communicated through a process of reading.
In 1935, photographer Dorothea Lange, while working for the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, snapped a picture of a migrant farm worker and her starving children at a farm in California where the workers were picking peas. Lange was one of a number of photographers who were hired to document conditions of people during the Great Depression. Little did she know that the photo of Florence Owens, known as “Migrant Mother,” and the accompanying news coverage would cause the government to rush food aid to the starving workers.
What is Narrative Art?
Narrative art is art that tells a story, either as a moment in an ongoing story or as a sequence of events unfolding over time. Some of the earliest evidence of human art suggests that people told stories with pictures.
Early Narrative Art
Lascaux cave art paintings, France, c. 18,000 BC, discovered 1940
Achilles and Ajax playing a dice game, c. 525-520 BC
“A picture is worth a thousand words.”
How have artists used their materials, techniques, and craft to tell stories? What stories did they tell? Why do they tell these stories? What was their audience? Are all stories meant to be shared, or are some reserved for certain people? Are some stories affected by time? How important is context?
Contemporary Narrative Art
Artists that Tell Stories
Make a piece of artwork that communicates an idea or tells a story. Make sure your artwork is both challenging and meaningful. You may use any material that is available in the room.